Screened-In Porches as Outdoor Living Spaces: Screened-In Porches Make a Comeback in Maryland and Washington D.C.

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Before the advent of air-conditioners, on hot summer nights, residents escaped the stifling heat of the indoors by spending time on a screened-in porch. The screens allowed the evening breeze through, but not the mosquitos. Families cooled down and connected with one another and the sounds of the world around them. 

As air-conditioners became ubiquitous, screened-in porches lost favor, people retreated indoors. Porches gave way to open patios and decks, rife with an ever-growing array of barbeque grills and smokers as their centerpieces. In recent years, we’re happy to report, Winthorpe has seen a resurgence in the popularity of screened-in porches in Maryland and D.C. We love to suggest them as an idea for adding on to a space that we’re remodeling but have been impressed with the number of clients who come in already wanting one.

Why the Screened-in Porch? 

With today’s concerns about sun exposure and the wear and tear of UV light on patio furniture, the pendulum has swung back to what worked so beautifully all those decades ago. People can be outdoors, enjoying the fresh air, while still relaxing in the shade, safe from pesky insects. It’s easy to grow a variety of plants, which help give the porch that retreat-like feel. It becomes a very useable extension of the house that can be enjoyed more days and months of the year than an open deck or patio. In Maryland and Washington D.C., these enclosed porches are useful for fully nine months of the year.

Are There Any Options?

One really great optional feature for today’s screened-in porch is being able to properly enclose it in the off season. The screens come as sectional inserts that can be removed and replaced with glass inserts. By adding supplemental heat, or something as simple as a fireplace, we can make the space usable year-round. Instead of sipping iced-tea on a summer night, you might sip a hot toddy in front of the fireplace on a winter evening. 

For those who like to take their televised entertainment out of doors, these porches can now be outfitted with automated TV and stereo systems, complete with weather-resistant equipment. Add a mini-fridge and the furniture that you find comfortable and you’ve brought all the luxuries of the indoors right outside. 

Ceilings can be finished in wood bead or whatever material suits your style, with ceiling- or wall-mounted fans to help move the air.

screen porches and outdoor living spacesConnecting It To The House

These porches really become a favorite place to step out for breakfast or dinner, to take in the cooler hours of the day during the summer, or for some mid-day warmth in the dead of winter. But, what about during inclement weather? How is the inside of the house protected from the porch? To maintain the maximum amount of light while still preserving the insulation of the home’s interior, Winthorpe can install any of an array of options of doors. One of our favorites is the Nana Wall, a sliding glass wall of doors that opens up completely. These doors are wonderfully insulated when closed but disappear from view when open. 

Another beautiful effect of opening the house to the enclosed porch is, depending on where you live, letting the sounds of the outdoors drift into your home.

What About Beyond The Porch?

On a really perfect night, you may want to step outside the porch and would like the space beyond to be landscaped. You can have the outdoor areas beyond the porch finished with hardscaping. You may choose brick pavers or flagstone, stone retaining walls, or even a permanent seating area surrounding a fire pit. Hot tubs and swimming pools can be incorporated as well. 

For shade, you may consider installing a pergola over a seating area. For more weatherproofing, there are several ways to close the “roof” of a pergola, making it a pleasant spot to sit during full sun or a light rain. Some of these options are retractable, making it easy to go from full sun to partial or full shade.

A New Take On History

Today’s screened-in porch nods to its historical roots; a pleasant way to step out and face the sky, day or night, free of sunburns and mosquito bites. Yet, it’s a much more finished room now than what it was 30 or 60 years ago. They offer more flexibility now than ever and really complement the home.

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